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Pay per click grows up

March 7, 2008

I recently went to the Pay Per Click seminar in Boston, MA.

Pay per click marketing means exactly what it sounds like: people use search engines to find what they want. Since they search a certain topic, it makes sense that they are in the market for that topic. In other words, if you sell glasses, you would love to throw an ad at someone who searches google for glasses. And it gets even better: you only pay for the ad when someone clicks on it.

And crikey, did it work. And why not?
Advertising to someone interested in a product that only costs something if they engage with the ad.

It worked so well, people thought of new keywords to put an ad against. Thus, the glasses person bought “reading light”, or “tropical vacation” (for the sunglasses division). in the early days of PPC marketing, one could go as far as the imagination would take them. A glasses division might test “nerds” and pay for the right to be the first ad. Since there is no cost without a click, there’s no harm in trying lots of words. Buying “day at the beach” for glasses was easy and worth it.

So they did it.

Keyword generating programs popped up, some costing hundreds a year, and some free. People bought all the possible words that sort of fell into glasses and then bought up glassed, galasses and glasses with all the keys around the enter key in case someone accidentally hits that button — ie: glasses/.And that worked. Google and Yahoo would take your money and give the person who paid the most the #1 position. Thus, if you sold glasses, and you bid on “Vacation” and bid the most per click, you earned the #1 spot in the paid search listing.

Alas, the good fortunes of this industry changed a little while ago when search engines realized something important:It was impacting the search engine’s brand.

Google (and the other engines) are tools. And they are in the business of delivering organic and paid search to people that is relevant to the thing they searched for.

If in a search for glasses, the first few ads are about sail boats, that will affect the way people think about Google and it’s ability to return relevant search criteria.

“Why is this search engine returning sailboat ads when I’m looking for glasses?” Is it dumb? (The answer is the Sailboat guy was paying the most, but that’s not a good brand answer.)

No amount of money from the sailboat guy is worth that. Relevance became important again, and all search marketers became suspects.

Google and Yahoo and MSN (the big three) introduced a thing Google calls a quality score (the other engines have the same thing with a different name).

To get a good quality score is a simple thing: The search keyword should appear in the ad and landing page. Be relevant because ad placement and even minimum bid are based on the quality score.

And one last thing: Google will still take money from the sailboat guy, but everything they are setting up is an effort to push sailboat guy out of search. Sailboat guy can no longer bid on the #1 place. His minimum bid and placement are determined by quality score. And everyone starts with a bad one.

Which means there is room for marketers within pay per click. Because if you’re in it for sound marketing reasons, there isn’t any need to buy irrelevant words.

There was a moment when one of the presenters said it was important to think of the keyword, ad, and landing page in context of the entire business. In other words, it’s time they became marketers and not PPC people.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Patrick Lalande permalink
    March 8, 2008 12:55 am

    Very nice post. I would have liked to have said it as well as you did.
    Good job!


  2. March 8, 2008 5:42 pm

    Thanks Patrick.

  3. July 15, 2009 9:19 am

    nice info,bro, this is very informatif article about PPC, thank you for sharing. good luck.

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